Tuesday 01 May, 2012

Stark Into Spring

StarkBarsign




Stark Bar, the casual side of Kris Morningstar’s locavore and seasonal restaurant Ray’s at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has a bit of a secret weapon in Beverage Director Paul Sanguinetti. Formerly a chef, Sanguinetti is the rare bird who’s equally passionate about both wine and spirits, comfortable in both worlds, and unafraid […]




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Paul Sanguinetti stark bar

Paul Sanguinetti

Stark Bar, the casual side of Kris Morningstar's locavore and seasonal restaurant Ray's at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has a bit of a secret weapon in Beverage Director Paul Sanguinetti. Formerly a chef, Sanguinetti is the rare bird who's equally passionate about both wine and spirits, comfortable in both worlds, and unafraid to take risks.

I've written about Paul's wine pairing previously in The Tasting Panel, but tonight I got a chance to focus on his cocktails as he presented a Spring menu of new sips that were impressive for their variety and unpredictability, in many cases using spirits not typically thought of for Spring, but still sucessful.

Rose Wishes & Lavender Dreams

First Paul brought the perfect drink for a sunny brunch: Rose Wishes & Lavender Dreams, made with gin, Cote de Provence Rosé, St. Germain liqueur, lavender syrup and fresh lemon. An herbal nose led to sweet, floral mouthfuls that were delightfully light and pleasant.

Peaches 'N' Herb

Next was the deceptive and seductive, complex Peaches N Herb, made with mezcal Vida, local peach honey, fresh lime juice and sage (from the restaurant's garden). Smoky, sweet, creamy and just a bit acidic, it tasted something like you'd imagine a margarita over a beach campfire, and would probably pair fantastically with grilled tacos.

The following two were not as photogenic, but interesting in their own rights. The Dragon Sour, named for the restaurant's forager (their vagabond produce supplier), is made with Oro Italia pisco, local kiwi, fresh lime juice and egg white. The pisco's unique orange blossom and honeysuckle notes are emphasized by the contrasting fruits, compiling an ever-unwrapping array of tart citrus and creamy tropical notes, never overly sweet. It didn't convert me from a classic Pisco Sour, but I enjoyed it.

Dirty Harry was also inspired by a person, a departing prep cook whose three favorite drinks were Scotch, mezcal and Fernet Branca. Sanguinetti decided to combine all three in one glass, and was surprised to discover it worked! The Scotch is Famous Grouse, and the combination is then peppered with a combination of Fee Bros. and Regan orange bitters. Strong, smoky and sweet, it's somewhere between a Manhattan and Old Fashioned, turned up to 11. This is a drink-alone tipple, and the kind to have when you want to turn a frown upside down.

Cubano Libre

Lastly came a rum & coke twist called a Cubano Libre, uing Matusalem Classico Dominican Rum, smoked piloncillo sugar, Mexican cane-sugar Coca Cola, orange peel and barrel aged bitters. Served with a big Scotch ice cube, it might have been the one that didn't entirely work for me. It wasn't bad, but far less interesting than the others, and a bit indecisive.

Stark Bar, by the way, is quite the deceiving scene. For such an accessible, open spot, it's regularly occupied by the famous, rich and beautiful. If it seems odd to pick a museum as a drinking destination, put it down to the unpredictability of Los Angeles. And if you over-indulge, at least there are nice grounds around which to walk it off.

 

 


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